GA TeachMeet 2016 – Emotional Mapping

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 19 00.07The first GA Conference Teachmeet was an overwhelming success last year, so I was really pleased to get the opportunity to be involved again at the 2016 event. I find it quite difficult to limit myself to a short six minute slot, but decided this time to share some memories from the many fieldtrips I enjoyed during my 35 year teaching career.

I began with the following figures that summarise my commitment to fieldtrips over the years:

 7 Ski trips to Europe

20 Lake District fieldweeks

18 Lundy Island fieldweeks

6 whole-year Dartmoor residential trips

4 Uganda trips

3 Iceland trips (on behalf of Rayburn Travel)

 TOTAL: 2100+ students – 380 full days

So, over a year spent on trips away with students!

In addition, I have organised any amount of day trips for students through all age groups to various parts of the UK. I am unashamedly proud of this contribution, and it brought back many happy memories to tell some stories of experiences and events from some of my trips.

However, the real purpose of a Teachmeet should not be so self-indulgent – and should be a forum to share ideas that can be easily taken back to use in the classroom. So, in apology, I finished my slot by offering a simple fieldwork exercise that can be carried out within the school grounds. This consists of an ‘affective mapping’ inquiry, and is summarised below.

If any reader attended the Teachmeet this year – I would welcome any feedback, along with any fieldwork resources that they have used successfully with students.

Looking forward to 2017 …….. ?


Some of the best fieldwork can be completed in the local area – it does not always have to include exotic or far-flung locations.

IMG_1654This exercise is an ‘affective’ or ‘emotional’ mapping task that I have used with year seven students soon after their arrival in their new school. I have a feeling it might also work well as part of a transition programme, when students make the challenging shift from primary to secondary school.

“The human landscape can be read as a landscape

of exclusion …. The simple questions we should be

asking are: Who are places for? Whom do they

exclude and how are these prohibitions maintained

in practice?” (Sibley, 1995)

 The purpose of the inquiry is to allow students the opportunity to identify areas of their school in which they feel safe, secure and happy – as well as those areas in which they feel other emotions.

An introductory lesson can explore different emotions – see the Powerpoint presentation below – and devise a suitable key for recording. Maps of the school and surrounding grounds are then provided for the students, although working with the tablets, many of them preferred to access their own maps from ‘Digimap’ – a wonderfully versatile classroom resource.

Emotional Mapping at SMCC

IMG_1655The students then explore the school grounds in small groups, and use coloured stickers or their own chosen symbols to plot their emotional responses to different areas and locations. Other observations can be recorded as annotations on the map, photographs, sketches, video, audio narration, and interviews. I use I Pads to help do this – they really are ‘swiss army knives’ of data collection – but the process works just as well as a paper exercise.

After making their observations and collecting their data, the students then spend time putting their presentations together and drawing some conclusions. Some did this as a giant wall display, some made use of programmes like ‘Explain Everything’ and ‘Thinglink’ on the I Pads, while some added all of their data to Digimap. After a discussion of all of the findings in class, they then present their findings to the School Council and also to available members of the Senior Leadership Team – nice bit of ‘student voice’ input. Many of the conclusions will offer some surprises, and more importantly, ask some serious and thoughtful questions that need addressing. There were also usually a number of suggested changes to consider.

If anyone has any suggestions to improve this exercise, I would be pleased to hear from them. Also, if anyone uses it in their own school – let me know how you get on.


About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
This entry was posted in Curriculum, Fieldwork, General Geo, School, Teachers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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